At a recent session on extranets at the ILTA 2012 conference, Lynn Simpson of DuPont started her portion of the presentation with the warning that she “was about to throw a bomb in the room.” She followed that warning with these words:
- We don’t want you to send us poorly targeted, irrelevant marketing or legal updates. We consider that material to be the equivalent of spam.
- It’s great that you have all these interesting extranets, but we don’t want to have to go to each firm’s special environment to find the materials we need to work. We want our external clients to come to our environment — the place where we, the client, are most comfortable working.
That should make everyone sit up and take notice!
And then what? Here’s some advice:
- With a broadcasted email blast, the client is left trying to sift through a host of law firm updates in order to figure out which (if any) of these emails actually are relevant to the client’s work. Speaking on behalf of clients everywhere, Susan says: “That’s your marketing, not my business interest.”
- The better approach is for the client relationship partner to personally select the materials that are relevant to the client and then forward them with a covering note that explains the context and how it matters (or should matter) to the client.
- Ask your client how their department organizes legal information. Are there gaps you could help fill?
- Does your client have easy access to information relating to the matter you are working on? If not, discuss how you might make these materials available to them in a manner that is convenient for your client.
- Are there basic knowledge resources or tools you could provide your client to allow a certain measure self-service?
- Would your client be interested in a subscription service by which you regularly provided information useful to your client’s business operations?
While these are some preliminary suggestions, the bottom line is that each firm has to ask each of its clients for guidance on how best to share knowledge resources. It is now longer a matter of routine marketing. Instead, every action should remind your client of how well you understand your client’s business and how much you are willing to do to support your client’s work. Generic legal memoranda run the risk of sending a radically different message. Is that really what you want to do?
The next in this Focus on Clients series: Creating a Law Firm from a Client’s Perspective
[Photo Credit: artnoose]